Tag Archives: Gemma White

From Velveteen to Velour… a chat with Gemma White

Velour is a new magazine that will soon be hitting the streets, so editor, Gemma White and I decided to have a chat about the importance of small press publications and what you can expect from Velour. Enjoy…

Velour was previously known as Velveteen Zine. Does the name change signify a new aesthetic for the publication?

Yes. Velveteen Zine has grown up and matured into Velour. The initial zine was a bit of a trial one-off project, funded by Vibewire. I wanted to experience the processes involved in getting a poetry publication out into the world. Now that I know the basics, I am keen to establish Velour as an annual poetry magazine, a new alternative voice on the Melbourne streets, specifically aimed at providing more opportunities for new or lesser-known writers to get their poetry published, although I also consider poetry submissions from established poets. 

What sparked your desire to create Velour?

Firstly, it was sparked by my ardent love of poetry, but also because I wanted to help create more opportunities for new writers to get their work published. I also simply delight in creating things and finding fantastic poetry to publish. In the first issue the focus was on creating a nurturing zine that also included articles about poetry events and poets themselves in order to create more awareness of what already existed in terms of poetry resources in Melbourne. The first zine was really designed for young people who may have an interest in writing poetry, but perhaps weren’t sure how to find out about open mic nights, and all the other amazing poetry events and workshops that happen in Melbourne all the time. However, now Velour has grown into an anthology of poems pure and simple, with more space for new writing, and just a few selected links at the back of the publication to related resources. I feel that there are probably also enough journals that are already involved in the discussion of poetry as an art form, and that concentrating on publishing high quality poems by emerging poets is a better use for the pages of Velour, and a better way for me to personally contribute something worthwhile in creating this publication. I also really wanted to move away from poetry as an academic pursuit, and allow for it to be a bit more fun and accessible within Velour. I am aiming for simplicity, the simple appreciation of carefully cultivated words on a page. 

What role do you see small presses and independent magazines/journals playing in the future of poetry publishing?

I think small presses and independent magazines and journals are incredibly important. Poetry is a niche area to write in, there is a small readership (mainly other poets) and because of this most major publishers really don’t want to know about it as it doesn’t bring in the revenue of other genres of writing. So it is really up to the small presses and independent magazines and journals to encourage and sustain a plurality of poetic voices. I also believe that there really is so much high quality poetry being written that there are many writers looking for a good home for their work. This is encouraging. I don’t believe those rumours about poetry being a dying art form. I think that as long as people have thoughts and feelings to express, poetry will be a viable creative outlet.

Who are the writers that have influenced you and to what extent do they influence Velour?

Admittedly my influences are mostly shamefully mainstream – e.e.cummings to The Beat Poets to Bukowski. Out of more local and current poets, I like Geoff Lemon, Andy Jackson and Claire Gaskin. But I like a lot of poetry regardless of writing style. I look for something iridescent and shiny in the writing, something unique in the imagination of the writer, perhaps a miraculous description or a pure simplicity that comes out unscathed by the red pen, perfect in its coherent formulation. I would say that my tastes in poetry have a large influence on the kind of poetry I publish in Velour, I think it is hard for personal taste not to have some influence on an editor’s choice of poems for publication, unless a poem is so striking that anyone reading it is forced to admit its innate brilliance. That would be ideal, but realistically I think it is rare. In essence I believe all experience is quite subjective, so it follows that my editing choices would be also.

Do you see Velour as a print only magazine, or do you have plans to embrace the tides of technology?

I would one day like to embrace new technologies. It would also considerably lessen the financial cost of creating the zine and also be a more environmentally friendly option. I definitely plan to investigate e-magazine type options down the track, but my first priority is just to establish Velour as an annual physical publication. I also feel that it is slightly more satisfying for a published poet to have a real book in their hands which they can wave about and show to the world as a writing achievement rather than it just being online, which seems a lot less tangible.

Apart from following the submission guidelines, what are you wanting from poets when they submit their work? What are the things that excite you most when reading a submission?

I would like to see poets taking risks in their writing. Saying new things in new ways. Or even old things in new ways. I look for poetry with some aspect of putting a new spin on things, or taking the reader on an interesting voyage into the realms of what is possible in imagination land, which is anything really. The things that excite me most when reading a submission are delicious strings of adjectives, beautiful unexplained surrealism, and the blinding flash of something quite unknown and mysterious.

Velour Magazine has a Facebook presence – a page and a group – so check them out online.


Gemma White is a Melbourne-based poet who creates and edits Velour magazine. She has been published in Voiceworks, page seventeen and Visible Ink. She had poetry included in The Green Fuse, The Picaro Poetry Prize’s 2010 publication. Gemma also offers a poetry manuscript feedback service, which allows poets to get constructive criticism on their work at any time of year for a small fee. For more info: http://onlywordsapart.wordpress.com/


Filed under interviews/artist profiles

Guided by Cafe Poets #3 – Jessica Raschke & Gemma White

And the Cafe Poet features keep coming…

Jessica Raschke and Gemma White are both part of the first crop of Cafe Poets. Jessica is currently Poet-in-Residence at Cafe Tulk in Melbourne and Gemma is undertaking her residency at Zappa’s Cafe in South Melbourne.


drama sections          (by Jessica Raschke)

in the broken sections of the drama
lie some jealous little shards
they move themselves as troopers
into veins and dotted red cells
they possess small histories
that are laid down for the shattering
and those broken sections:

they forget their wholes
they relish in their self-destruction

(it was once called self-murder)


not shame not brokenness
only the surfacing of some deepness
a damned public viewing
of a circle of the broken
they are sections
that are inlaid
they are
set in fleshy faces
they are
suddenly relieved
in the broken sections of the drama



About Jessica:

Jessica Raschke is a writer and visual artist with a background in creative, poetic and non-fiction writing. Her visual artwork combines textual and multimedia forms and has been exhibited at Kings ARI, 69 Smith Street Gallery, Centre for Contemporary Photography, fauxPho, Gabriel Gallery and Hunt Club Gallery. Her writing has appeared in Overland, The Big Issue, Metro, Australian Screen Education, Australian Bookseller + Publisher and InPress. Her first poetry collection, Luscious Glass Cage (Ginninderra Press), was published in 2008 (visit www.ginninderrapress.com.au). She is currently the Café Poet in Residence at Mr Tulk Café at the State Library of Victoria. Raschke completed a PhD into the history of multicultural literature and the culture of whiteness in commercial publishing in Australia in 2004. Since 2001 she has taught across a range of disciplines, including publishing and communications, journalism, media studies, creative and non-fiction writing, and cultural studies.





The Joggers and the Immaculate Lands.          (by Gemma White)

In this postcode, the lands are immaculate.
Even the leaves of the trees gleam like
a cleaning product commercial at the
joggers in the park below. Their sunglasses
reflect blue skies, kids in prams, dogs.
I know something they don’t know:
running is not fun. And it will not stop
you from getting old. I’d rather just not run.
They run away from age, from wrinkles, from
weight gain, in long yet futile strides.
They’re out there every day, at all times.
Even when it’s raining, they keep on running.
I guess old age keeps chasing; is neither tamed
by time nor change in weather, and so,
on they must run. Then one day, whilst
cornered in my private apartment of nothing,
looking out over the stream of joggers,
I suddenly get the urge to do something drastic.
I’m feeling trapped. I’m feeling static. I
have to move. Do something. Go somewhere.
Go out. I find myself on the carpet, clad in
clinging black tracksuit, feet shod in white lace-up
trainers, stretching a shoulder, an arm, a quadricep.
I enter the green square like a robber entering a
jewellery store. I look around. No one takes any
notice of another track-suited fiend on the path
to Health and Fitness. I start jogging, slowly at
first, a tad self-consciously. Then I go faster. My
legs enjoy it. They like being used, stretched to
their full capacity. I run like I am running from
something. I run from life. I run like I am free.
I have become. One of them.



About Gemma:

I began writing poetry a couple of years ago, while mooching around Edinburgh, pretending to be part of some Beat-style avant-garde poetry movement (purely made up by myself and a few fellow young writers). What these students turned Serious Young Poets taught me has been invaluable. I realised that poetry can be humorous, chaotic, drunken, glorious, and most importantly, relevant to real life. I returned to Melbourne feeling inspired, and set up a local poetry publication for new writers: http://velveteenzine.wordpress.com/

Recently I have done a few readings of my work on SYN 90.7 FM’s arts radio show, Arts Mitten, which has been great fun. I’m hoping that my café poet residency at Zappa’s Café in South Melbourne will force me to schedule in some more weekly writing time, and that writing in a public space may bring forth some interesting and varied subject matter.


Filed under Guided By Poets